Have you ever uttered the phrase “I was born in the wrong decade”? Have you ever criticized a band somebody liked by saying “(band x) is only doing what (band y) was doing twenty years earlier”? Do you run an unpopular music blog or write record reviews? Odds are that if you have, or know somebody who has said/done any of these things, you have had direct experience with oldfaggotry. Although I tend to doubt there is much controversy on this website over what the term “oldfag” refers to, I’ll provide a quick definition for those not in the know: Oldfaggots are people who, usually out of some combination of nostalgia (real or imagined), stubbornness, and/or cynicism, are predisposed to liking bands by virtue of being old, while at the same time being incredulous and/or dismissive of any music happening in the immediate present. In this post, I would like to take a look at the confusing and annoying phenomena of oldfaggotry within hardcore, in which young kids who are initially drawn to youthful, energetic music somehow resultantly end up acting like ornery 45 year olds with intensely sensitive anuses. We’ll start with an overview of oldfaggotry within hardcore, and at the end of the post, I’ll show you examples of how the internet has enabled (and will continue to enable) oldfaggotry to continue on, stronger than ever before!
PART 1: A Brief History Of Oldfaggotry Within Hardcore
First and foremost, one should understand that oldfaggotry is not a new trend within hardcore, and has actually existed almost as long as hardcore itself. Ancient archeological evidence suggests that the first enduring love letter of oldfaggotry written in hardcore was penned by none other than Ian McKaye, in the form of the Minor Threat song “Salad Days”:
This song expresses all the sentiments that are common to most latter-day hardcore oldfaggots: A rosy, sentimental look at hardcore’s past, a bitter, disdainful perspective on the present, and an odd mixture of resignation and stubbornness with respect to change (hardcore currently sucks, so what does Minor Threat do? They write another hardcore song about it – albeit with “progressive” elements [read: bell noises]). However, note that unlike today, early oldfaggotry referred back to a much shorter span of time by the virtue of hardcore not having actually existed for very long. While current oldfaggotry requires an incubation period of at least a decade and a half to two decades before something old can be considered cool, Ian McKaye was referring to a era of hardcore that existed just a couple of years before.
While I’d hesitate to say Mike Judge makes the old days of hardcore sound particularly cool (lol wearing chain belts and construction gloves), he definitely seems to be of the opinion that ‘kids these days just don’t have the spirit they used to’. Note that the nostalgia gap has widened slightly from “Salad Days” (this song celebrates a time six years prior, versus “Salad Days” 2-3), and that Mike Judge attributes much of the present-day degeneration of hardcore to posers (which is a very common trope amongst oldfags today). As proof that nostalgia/pseudo-nostalgia are all relative, the period which Judge bitches about in this song (the late 80s) is considered to be ‘a rly amazing time for hardcore’ by many starry-eyed little kids and assorted tumblrfags today!
Start again at exactly which point? The point at which liking hardcore meant that you had to roll the dice on some album based on a review written by some retard in Maximumrocknroll , or the point when going to shows meant being packed like sardines into some tiny rented hall/shack/basement because no club owners wanted to risk housing a bunch of malcontents at their venue? Personally, I feel lucky and blessed to have be born in an age where liking hardcore doesn’t mean you have to go to shows in some dank cellar unless you really want to. In any event, the sentiment of this song – which came out roughly twenty years after “Salad Days” – is essentially the same, with one critical difference: While both McKaye and Bane frontman Arron “Gargoyle” Beddard agree that ‘stuff was really moar meaningful back in the day’, McKaye’s ultimate reaction to current day hardcore is resignation (via forming Embrace/Fugazi), whereas Gargoyle seeks to restore hardcore’s integrity though revival. In the age of armies of tumblrfags heaping praise on “classic hardcore”, and starting bands with an inherently anachronistic sound (see: neo-powerviolence), it’s pretty clear which sentiment has won out in the latter day.
Part 2: The Present and Future of Oldfaggotry
If dinosaur rock is your thing, then you are in luck! Fossil acquisition has never been easier than it is today. The advent of music blogs, YouTube, and the like have made it easier for oldfags to oldfag harder than ever before, and the result of seemingly every microscopic, insignificant, odd, obscure, or generally unpopular band now finding a home on the internet has resulted in the interesting phenomenon of the nostalgia gap becoming amplified in the late 2000s/2010s. Where once the nostalgia gap on coolness/tr00ness went from a couple of years to a couple of decades, the immediate availability of even older, lesser known music has caused certain advanced-level oldfags to become even more indulgent in their branding of “hardcore innovators”. Resultantly, bands who clearly have absolutely nothing to do with hardcore are suddenly being hailed with writing “proto hardcore” songs. Below are some notable examples:
Although unknown for the better part of 25 years, The Middle Class became branded as “the first hardcore band” by teenagers on the internet when Steven Blush mentioned them as having possibly released the first hardcore EP in his book American Hardcore (an essential text in the rise of recordcollectercore and oldfaggotry in the early 2000s). Back when the band existed in the late 70s, they were just another of many Orange County punk bands playing around, but years later, they are rechristened godfathers of a genre they both predated and never cared about in the first place.
Then you have the sad lot that is the garage rock subculture – people who are mostly over the age of 33 that talk about how they are WiLd ROCKnROLL ANIMALS on the internet, when in reality they are often bearded men with receding hairlines blathering on about their record collections and how music stopped being good four decades ago. A minority of people exist who consider this to be the very first hardcore song – written all the way back in 1966 by a little-known Texan group called The Zakary Thaks. Needless to say, this song is more of a fast anomaly than anything (the band in question never wrote another song similar to this one), but when archnerds are looking to win obscurity pissing contests, this name will still come up.
An even smaller minority of people exist who consider Sound Of Imker to have written the first hardcore riff back in 1969. Not quite sure if/how the people who originally put time into finding this irrelevant relic and arguing this claim manage to find people to have sex with them, but I’m open to the possibility that it may have happened once.
As we are living in the decade of tr00ness, and being old is equated with having credibility, we can only expect to see oldfaggotry continue expanding exponentially in both directions as the 2010s continue on. As somewhat newer bands like Hatebreed and Terror finally become acceptable for jaded alternative young people to like, others will continue to look further and further back for bands/genres/trends to jock within hardcore (which is already evident by the ever-increasing number of 50s dad haircuts at metalcore shows). Ironically enough, if you are into thinking that anything old is awesome, the present is actually a really great time to be alive!
Oldfaggotry within hardcore is very far from a new phenomenon, but it is entirely possible that anthropologists may someday call the early 2010s “The Golden Age of Oldfaggotry”. Novel developments in technology and communications are making old music/trends more accessible than ever before, and the “tr00ness factor” – which rewards pretentiousness and overindulgence in nostalgia – is giving oldfags freer reign than ever to explore their proclivities. What remains to be seen is how far oldfaggotry in this decade will go (since Defeater has cornered the market for 50’s imagery, how long will it take before a hardcore starts singing about the ‘trials of The Great Depression’?), and whether or not oldfaggotry will return exclusively to the domain of unpopular nerds in the next decade.
Some discussion questions: Are you, or were you ever an oldfag? Which of the dinosaur bands that I posted above “rly invented hardcore”? Is there a sadder, more disillusioned subgenre than garage rock? What are your favorite oldfag bands, and which bands ‘rly piss you off, because they swapped all of their shit’ from your favorite oldfag bands? Are you using an unconventional hair style to mask an ever-increasing bald spot?